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Editorial: Learning Our Lesson – But This Is Just The Start

IT HAS been said many times since Hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas: We must learn from this. The signs are that the Bahamian government is doing just that.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced a new ministry – the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, with Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis appointed as minister of state for the body.

Mr Lewis has the right background for the role - he is a certified architect and project manager - though the challenge he faces as The Bahamas starts the recovery process is a daunting one.

While the new ministry will give an extra degree of oversight of reconstruction and planning for future storms, it is perhaps as notable that the National Emergency Management Agency will undergo restructuring.

NEMA has come under fire during the aftermath of the storm for its response, and it is wise to look at what NEMA can do better. It is also wise, as Dr Minnis is doing, to turn to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and other international counterparts to draw upon their experience.

The Bahamas, thankfully, has not had to deal with tragedies of this scale often. While we prepare for the prospect of more such storms, it is only sensible to speak to experts who are used to dealing with disasters on a more regular basis. The sheer size and population of the United States means that FEMA has expertise in preparation and response and we would be foolish not to draw upon that knowledge.

There are other positive ideas being put forward - more work to position emergency equipment where it is needed, for example.

That includes life rafts and life jackets, generators and chainsaws. One thing of note is the plan to put jet skis in place as part of the emergency response. We all saw videos of jet skis being used to rescue people in the aftermath of the storm, finding a way through flooded roads to those in need of help.

Training those in areas at risk is also a sensible move - and we hope this is extended to all residents in vulnerable areas, no matter what their background or their first language.

There will be other questions to be raised as time goes by, and other ways in which we can find ways to improve our ability to confront such disasters.

For example, one of the crucial ways in which lives were saved right after the storm was through the actions of the US Coast Guard, whose helicopter rescue teams were the difference between life and death for many. Can we implement our own helicopter rescue service to operate alongside the Coast Guard? That’s one of the questions to ponder.

To begin to improve, we have to accept that there are areas in which we have not been as strong as perhaps we could have been. We hope never again to face such a deadly storm - even as we note the effects of climate change seem to make it likelier that we will. But if we do, we must be ready. We welcome the changes being introduced by the prime minister - but they are just the first step. We must keep taking the next step, and the next - our future really does depend on doing so.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

he "might" be a good choice but remember that hurricane preparedness is much more than building codes. The best individual for this task would have been a logistics expert who had an architect reporting to them. but we never seem to see that far...

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JackArawak 1 month, 2 weeks ago

it should have occurred to these clowns years ago that we weren't properly prepared for a hurricane. The government does the same dance every time they are caught with their pants down. I'm not expecting anything to be any different when the next storm hits. The Bahamian government has failed miserably far too many times for me to have even a hint of confidence in them now....please prove to me that you have finally learned, please prove me wrong.

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Godson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Looks like hurricane Dorian may be the impetus in shaping a Cabinet in which the Bahamian populace can be confident. This is the first appointment that is hail favorably by political pundits et al.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Has Lewis spoken out independently on any issue to date? If not, why should he have any impact on governance now that he is even more beholding to Dr Minnis?

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Clamshell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

We can pretty much guarantee that any chainsaws, generators and JetSkis that had been “prepositioned” in advance of a hurricane would be missing by the time they were needed. “Borrowed,” as it were ...

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Repost:

It's all too obvious that Minnis has pointed his index finger of blame at NEMA's head, Captain Stephen Russell. Minnis is constantly ducking and dodging blame for just about any and everything - the buck never stops with him! He's always looking for the sacrificial lamb to take the fall, especially one he did not appoint. Such is the modus operandi of a weak man bereft of the capability to lead, among so many other shortcomings.

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